Albay irrigation project gives farmers higher yields

By Connie Calipay

Farmers in Camalig, Albay who are agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) are now enjoying higher palay harvest of up to 120 cavans per hectare now that their farms are irrigated compared to 60 cavans per hectare when their crops were just rain-dependent or without irrigation supply.


The higher yields were experienced by the ARBs after the completion of the P11.6-million Manawan Communal Irrigation System (CIS) that irrigates over 60 hectares of rice farms in the villages of Manawan and Quinartilan in Camalig town.


Gerard Buensalida, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Bicol spokesperson, said the CIS, with its 2.8-kilometer concrete line canals, is now providing a steady supply of irrigation water from the Malobago River in Guinobatan town to Camalig.


“The farmers could now expect continued higher farm yields and overshoot their previous average yield of 60 cavans per hectare per cropping season to 120 cavans per hectare,” he said.


Meanwhile, DAR-Bicol Regional Director Rodrigo Realubit said that irrigation is now allowing some 211 farmers who are agrarian reform beneficiaries and other palay planters to harvest more per cropping.


He said farmers in the barangays used to cultivate palay only once or twice a year. Rice fields were irrigated from improvised earth canals with limited areas being reached by water.


Rio Olavario, who tills a 1.5-hectare rice field in Barangay Manawan, said: “Our situation was difficult at that time since I was only producing 15 to 20 cavans per hectare every harvest. Due to a shortage of water, I can only plant once or twice each year.”


Olavario added that with the new irrigation canals, wider tracks of rice land can now be reached by sufficient water, thus giving them hope to make up for their losses in the past years.


Dante O. Nuñez, president of the Manawan Irrigators’ Association, also said: “This time, farmers here could now maximize their production, particularly in rice fields previously not reached by irrigation water, paving the way to increasing their farm incomes”.


“I have already harvested up to 100 cavans from my one-hectare farm, which is double compared to my previous harvests,” he said.


Buensalida said the National Irrigation Administration undertook the rehabilitation works of the Manawan CIS under the support services component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).


“The project is designed to provide agrarian reform farming communities with infrastructure facilities to boost the agricultural production and income of agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he added. (PNA)